- Experts produced first science-based guide on complementary therapies
- Therapies are graded their effectiveness at easing cancer symptoms
- Said yoga and meditation can manage anxiety, depression, and fatigue
- Acupuncture can control nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy
- Only a handful of therapies currently have a strong evidence base
- One supplement sold to prevent neuropathy increased risk for condition
Yoga and meditation can ease the symptoms of breast cancer, says a top-level investigation.
The first guidelines on complementary therapies awarded the relaxation techniques an ‘A’ rating for routine use to manage anxiety and other mood disorders suffered by women with the disease.
Most patients would also benefit from the techniques for reducing stress, depression, and fatigue, says the guidance.
Acupuncture received a ‘B’ rating for controlling nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
For the first time, the US-based Society for Integrative Oncology has produced science-based guidance to inform doctors and patients about the safety and effectiveness of complementary therapies for breast cancer.
Around 80 different therapies were analysed.
The guidance does not investigate if complementary therapies can affect the cancer itself, but whether their use makes a difference to a range of related and common health problems such as anxiety and fatigue
Around four out of five cancer patients take a complementary treatment or follow a special diet.
Surveys show alternative therapies taken by patients include shark cartilage, blessed thistle, slippery elm, sheep sorrel and potentially toxic doses of vitamins.
But some cancer specialists have been concerned that alternatives may cause harm by delaying or replacing scientifically tested conventional therapy.
To produce the guidelines, the researchers reviewed randomised controlled clinical trials conducted from 1990 to 2013 among breast cancer patients who had complementary therapies together with standard cancer care — defined as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy.
The researchers considered the magnitude and type of benefit and harm along with trial quality and size.
THE BENEFITS OF YOGA
Of 4,900 research articles reviewed, 203 met the criteria for the final analysis and grading.
The top ‘A’ rating was awarded to meditation, yoga, and relaxation with imagery, which had the strongest evidence supporting their use.
The same techniques received a ‘B’ grade for reducing stress, depression, and fatigue, along with acupuncture for controlling chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting.
More than 30 interventions, including some natural products and acupuncture for other conditions, which had weaker evidence of benefit due to either small study sizes or conflicting study results, were given a ‘C’ grade.
One therapy was found to be harmful: acetyl-l-carnitine, which is marketed to prevent chemotherapy-related neuropathy, and actually increased risk for the condition, said the guidance.
Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center with colleagues at MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Michigan, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and other institutions in the US and Canada drew up the guidance.
It was presented yesterday at the Society for Integrative Oncology's 11th International Conference held in Houston, Texas. (MORE)
Source: Daily Mail